Written by Bob Rakow
The trouble with a vacation is coming back from vacation.
I stepped into the house Monday evening after being out of town since Thursday night and immediately began making a mental checklist of things that I had to accomplish as soon as possible. Truth is, I started the list while on the drive home.
Writing this column was atop the list, especially because the Reporter lost a valuable production day Monday, which was a holiday. So, I’m thinking, B-Side needs to get written so I can spend some time later Monday night on a personal project, unpack and organize.
Then, I can hit the office Tuesday and have decent chance of squeezing two days work into one. Something might fall through the cracks, but it’s important that I give myself the best chance possible to meet my deadlines and accomplish all my work.
Of course, I’m not alone in this frame of mind.
My 15-year-old daughter wasn’t home an hour before she got back to the homework that’s due the following day. She tried to do some in the car on the trip, but the back seat isn’t the best place to study.
So she strived on Monday night to study for a quiz and complete an outline for the AP history course. She, too, is never truly “away” from school, as she has the ability to check grades online.
Her mother, meanwhile, was making sure we have everything we need for Tuesday, though she was smart enough to extend her vacation until Wednesday.
It’s tough for most of us to throw the switch and just go on vacation— a full and complete vacation that includes nothing but rest and relaxation, fun and frivolity.
Years ago, being away from the job meant exactly that. Today, it’s nearly impossible to truly get away. Instead, we’re tethered to our responsibilities via cell phone calls, texts, e-mails. I was only gone from the office for one workday, yet I checked my email regularly while away.
When I saw an email from my editor that didn’t require a response, I responded anyway. Force of habit, I guess. Then again, an email reminding me to submit my picks for the Reporter’s Football Forecast went ignored.
And this particular trip was just a long weekend. A full week off requires many of us to work twice as hard before we leave. It’s unfair to leave our colleagues behind to do extra work. And, in my case, my editor worked his tail off before going on his vacation so I wouldn’t have too many additional tasks.
Vacations might be tough to take, but they’re well worth it. My family and I easily could have spent a week in northern Michigan (and we’ve already talked about how such a trip might come together next year).
On this trip, the fulfillment was found in the little things.
For instance, my wife and I spent every night sitting at the bonfire the resort provided, sharing a bottle of wine. Other resort guests would arrive, relax in the Adirondack chairs and help their young children make s’mores.
We met Bob and Peggy, who hail from Windsor. They’d been to the resort many times, but this was the first time without their children—a very different experience that they seemed to be enjoying quite a bit.
Bob and Peggy were engaging folks, and we spent hours talking kids and comparing U.S. and Canadian cultures. It was an enjoyable evening.
The next day, we took a trip to Mackinaw City, where I met a retired local newspaperman who has written three books about the Mackinac Bridge. He told me fascinating stories about the five men who died building the bridge that connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.
We could have talked for a long while. Here was a veteran journalist, who compiled information for his Mackinac Bridge books from his own reporting and research he conducted. He told me about the number of babies on the bridge and host of other factoids.
We spent time in the hot tub and swimming pool as my daughter asked me, tongue planted firmly in cheek, “What’s next?”
“Nothing,” I told her. That’s the beauty of vacations. They don’t always go as planned. You let the day come to you.
Of course, my daughter’s not a little girl anymore and doesn’t need a flurry of activities to enjoy a vacation. She had fun, she told me, and didn’t want to leave.
Neither did I.